POCKET BAG FALL 2020
Bella Hadid channels big-cat energy in Burberry’s first ever bag campaign.
The campaign celebrates a new signature for the house, the Pocket Bag. Creative Director Riccardo Tisci was inspired by a design from Burberry’s archives, which he updated for a new century. Explaining the genesis of the new design and its campaign, he reflects, “For me, a lot of my creative concepts come from discovering old house codes and then creating new ones. I have always loved going into the archives and that is where I found the inspiration for this Pocket Bag.”
For Burberry’s first ever bag campaign, I knew that I needed to give the Pocket Bag a powerful modern energy and so together with Katy, Inez, and Vinoodh we developed an exciting campaign inspired by Burberry’s Animal Kingdom. Animals have always been a creative obsession and signature of mine, and it was so amazing to see Bella Hadid bring this to life as the panther. She has this fierce power and raw femininity that perfectly embodies the animal spirit.
It’s exciting to see Bella step more into the role of a performer, as many of the campaigns she appears in treat her merely as a pretty and recognizable face. Here, she really flexes her own creative muscles and takes on a scintillating feline physicality. Whether she’s slinking seductively in the short film’s black velvet bodysuit or posing in a photograph with nothing covering her but an oversized Burberry bag, the claws are out.
One cannot help but wonder, however, whether the impact of the campaign is due to its reliance on colonialist tropes. Much of the Burberry aesthetic, such as the trench coat and especially the “exotic” prints of the Animal Kingdom house code, has its history tied up with British imperialism. Keeping this history in mind, it can be hard not to see this campaign – with its storyline of bringing a ferocious black jungle cat back to England in a box, and its vaguely tribal soundtrack – as relying on and even glorifying the antiquated and sinister ideal of a developed western culture “civilizing” a mysterious and primal eastern one.
That Bella is white adds to the complexity and nebulousness of this connection. Nobody we see is being actively exploited, and the inclusion of these tropes was probably subconscious. Imperialist and white-supremacist attitudes are deeply ingrained into our culture. That this campaign made it through every level of Burberry’s decision making and was released, however, raises questions of who has power within the brand, and concerns of whether it can ever meaningfully reckon with and move past this history, or if it is doomed to repeat forever the mistakes of the past.
Burberry Chief Creative Officer | Riccardo Tisci
Photographers/Directors | Inez and Vinoodh
Model | Bella Hadid
Stylist | Katy England
Hair | Christiaan Houtenbos
Makeup | Isamaya Ffrench